The Summer Mystery has now finished and the instructions have been removed. However I have left the tutorial here for you as there are a lot of good tips and tricks in the last 10 posts – just use the category to find all posts. You can now download the full pattern as a working Quizzle from here.
Welcome to the Great Summer Mystery Quilt. Before we begin let me start by saying there are many right ways to do this, every teacher and quilter will have their own thoughts and methods. I will show you how I do things. If you are completely new to quilting you will probably follow me word for word. If you are experienced then you may choose to do things your own way. That is not to say my way is wrong either but just a different choice. I was lucky to do quite an extensive beginner course in patchwork and have learnt much more over the years but there is much I am still to learn and discover. I will try to put as much in as I can which will also teach me not to take things for granted. As stated last week, I shall put the minimum in Italic so those of you who are more experienced can skim through to the basic instructions in italics..
okay, here we go
It is recommended that all fabrics be quality 100% cotton fabrics and it is assumed that they are 40” usable in width. All seam allowances of ¼” are included in the instructions.
The most important thing in having a quilt top come together nicely is accuracy. If you take as much care as possible in every step to be accurate your seams and points will come together nicely in the end. So accuracy in cutting, sewing and pressing is important.... sure we can fudge, but to not have to is even better...and makes for lovely flat pieced quilt tops.
If you are new to quilting then you may want to do this little accuracy test before we begin.
Please ensure that you can sew an accurate ¼”seam prior to commencing this project. To test this cut 3 strips 1 ½”X 5” and sew them together lengthwise. Press the unit and then measure the centre strip. If this measures 1” then your accuracy is fine. If not then adjust your needle position or guide to correct the problem. Once you have found the correct position mark the bed of your machine with a piece of masking tape or similar. This is if your 1/4" foot is not giving you an accurate seam width.
okay, I laid my piece of scrap fabric onto my cutting mat with one edge even to a line on the mat. I then cut a 5" strip. I turned the strip sideways (so its now horizontal) and then cross cut three 1 1/2" strips. In the picture above I have already cut two and am about to cut the third. See how I have lined up the red line on the straight edge of my fabric noting that the horizontal line is also in line with the straight bottom edge of the fabric. That leaves 1 1/2" of the ruler laying on top of the fabric giving me a straight edge to cut to.
Amazingly not all 1/4" markings are a 1/4" and if you measure your ruler on your cutting mat you may find that the measurements are not exactly the same. For this reason I generally always use the measurements on my ruler, not those on the mat. The mat lines are using simple for squaring things up. Whichever you choose, its one or the other for the whole project.
So to cut - holding the ruler firmly with the left hand (or right if LHded) with fingers out of the way of the edge you run the rotary cutter down the edge of the ruler. You should be pressing down and to the left, against the edge of the ruler. If your blade is sharp it should take just one pass of the cutter. Always run the blade away from yourself. Start just before the fabric and run off the other edge of the strip.
Always shut the safety cover on your blade as soon as you finish the cut. Start doing this now and it will become a habit you wont even think about. Some blades will have self closing guards and this is even safer. Rotary blade cutters are VERY Sharp - ask many of us how we know - extreme safety should be taken at all times!
Now you have your three strips 5" long by 1 1/2" wide.
Lay two strips right sides together exactly matching the edges.
Hopefully you all have a 1/4" quilting foot specific to your sewing machine.... (oh before we start, have you pampered your best friend, cleaned and oiled, nice new sharp needle?)
If you don't have a 1/4" foot you will need to use your ruler to measure a perfect 1/4" from the needle and place a strip of masking tape on the machine bed. This will be your guide.
Not all 1/4" feet are perfect either so if you need to use the masking tape method, or just to check your foot lay your ruler that you cut with under the foot with the edge even with a line. Lower the needle and see if it pierces the line 1/4" from the first one...
Okay place the two strips right sides together under the foot with the edge of the foot (assuming its good to go after the tests above) on the edge of the fabric. Using a 100% cotton thread stitch. Some say to use a shorter stitch length for extra strength - about 1 1/2 - 2 on your dial. This does give extra strength but you don't want to do too much unpicking! I sit on about 2. A cream or mid grey coloured thread is good to use on almost any colour of fabrics as they blend well. You don't have to match threads for peicing. I have a grey today which will show up on the cream fabric. Normally you would use cream on a light coloured quilt probably.
Stitch the three strips together.
Now take to the ironing board and with a hot dry iron press the seams first closed then open up the two pieces and press again with the seam to one side. I say press, not iron as you don't want to distort the strips. Throughout the instructions I will generally tell you which direction to press the seams for the best result.
Now lay your cutting ruler on top and check that the middle strip is exactly 1" wide... tadah... your test is finished and your machine is ready to go.....
Onto our quilt:
Now above remember I said I generally just use a ruler for measurements but as I told you all to get a 6 1/2" wide ruler in this instance we are going to have to use our mat.
okay now most of you will have to double fold your pressed fabric you bought from the store. Because fabric is not often bolted exactly on the straight grain or cut square the store we need to square it up before we can begin. Fold your fabric in half across the width (selvedge meets selvedge) then fold in half again. Place your ruler along the top fold and look at the bottom fold. Both folds should be even with the lines on your ruler - that is parallel with each other.
If they are not, move the layers until they are. Sometimes it is easier to concertina the folds to get them even. Once they are even your fabric is pretty much squared. Line one of the folds up with a line on your mat and trim off the left end to square it.
Now you need to cut two strips across this folded fabric 6 7/8" wide - wider than your 6 1/2" ruler. You will have to use the ruler and the mat together for this. When cutting 7/8" measurements it is really easy to cut wrong - always think that 6 and 7/8" is almost 7" - go to 7" then step back 1/8" to be sure.
See these little lines on your ruler? They are 1/8" apart and you will need to use them now. The same measurements will also be hopefully on your mat (depending on the brand)
Of course if you have a wider ruler use it
Okay, now lay your two cut strips together with the long edge along a line on your mat. Trim off the selvedge ends. (they are now not double folded, just folded one in half- so you have four layers)
Now cross cut eight 6 7/8" squares. (2 layers of 4) Then remove the top piece and cut two more from the remaining strip. (total of 10 squares 6 7/8") yes you have a bit leftover.
Are you getting the idea of how it works? I will speed things up a bit more now.
It will save time and thread if you chain piece all the units at the same time. Place the first unit under your machine foot and proceed to sew the seam. When you get to the end of the unit, feed the next unit into the machine without cutting the thread. Continue sewing the seams until you have finished. Do not cut the thread! Instead turn the ‘string’ of units around and continue sewing down the opposite side of the square until you have done all of them on two sides. Cut your thread and then proceed to snip all the units apart. Press the triangles back and then repeat for the opposite two sides of your square
Finger press the long side of one triangle and the centre of one square side. match the two creases with the fabrics right sides together and the raw edges even. Note that the triangle extends past both ends of the square.
Sew triangles on one side of each square then turn around and attach them to the opposite sides of each square. Note that the long edge of the triangle is a bias edge and can easily stretch and distort. Its important to let the machine feed the fabric through evenly, don't hold it back or stretch it as you sew.
cut apart and press the seams flat, then open the triangles out and press the seams towards the triangles. Again because its a bias edge don't distort it out of shape.
now attach triangles to the remaining two sides. Again the triangles will extend past both ends. Where the two layers meet it should be exactly where your 1/4" stitch line goes.
chain piece them all again then press closed, then open
you should now have five of these completed blocks.
note that the pink corner should be sitting 1/4" inside the edge of the block - this is correct!
Well done, that's it for today and we will move much quicker from now on now that you know what you are doing!
Hope you're having fun.. The next instalment will be posted sometime soon so watch this space.....